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"Black Dog" and "Heartbreak Hotel"?

Hermit On The Hill

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3 hours ago, Hermit On The Hill said:

I'm noticing some structural parallels between Zeppelin's "Black Dog" and Elvis's "Heartbreak Hotel". I'm referring mainly to the acapella sections paired with the full instrument sections in both songs.


Can anyone back me up on this, or am I really out of my mind?

Word on the street is that it was inspired by Fleetwood Mac's 'Oh Well', which also has that similar structure.



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While I somewhat agree with Heartbreak Hotel, I just don't hear it in Oh Well. Similar ideas in all 3, thats why most of us probably enjoy Black Dog, Oh Well, and Heartbreak Hotel. IMO borrowing and "inspired by" music is just part of the songwriting game.

Take somebody, say... John Paul Jones. In the taxi, he heard Oh Well, and enjoyed it. A week later was jamming with Page and Bonham trying out new material and exploring. You know? I'm not a career musician or anything, but I've written songs that turned out sounding almost identical to the songs from my Pandora playlist from earlier in the day. Haha B)

Is borrowing intentional? Kinda a grey area there.


Ps. and hey, since Plant wrote the song, at least in part, & lately plays Black Dog as a blues, I think you're right. Heartbreak Hotel. 

Edited by Dirty Work
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I remember reading that Jonesy also took inspiration from Muddy Waters 'Electric Mud' album, although it was later revealed that he actually meant Howlin' Wolfs 'This is Howlin' Wolf's New Album'. 

The second point of misinformation about “Black Dog” is that the riff was inspired by Muddy Waters’ 1968 album Electric Mud. Keith Shadwick in Led Zeppelin: 1968-1980 and Andy Fyfe in When the Levee Breaks: The Making of Led Zeppelin IV both repeat this erroneous detail. In the December, 2007, issue of Mojo, however, John Paul Jones states that he wrote the main riff for “Black Dog” after listening to This Is Howlin’ Wolf’s New Album. That authors of such definitive books about Led Zeppelin repeated this misinformation is understandable, as it was John Paul Jones himself who for years had misstated the origins of the “Black Dog” riff in interviews. As Steve Sauer explains, John Paul Jones had confusedElectric Mud and This Is Howlin’ Wolf’s New Album, but didn’t realize his mistake until Sauer tracked him down with a copy of This Is Howlin’ Wolf’s New Album in his hand. After listening to both albums closely Sauer realized that it was “Smokestack Lightning” from This Is Howlin’ Wolf’s New Album that had inspired “Black Dog.”

It’s not all that surprising that John Paul Jones mixed up Electric Mudand This Is Howlin’ Wolf’s New Album. Both albums were late-1960s attempts to “update” the sound of these blues artists by incorporating more psychedelic instrumentation. While both albums have interesting tracks to recommend them, you can tell that neither artist’s heart was completely into this new sound. In fact, Howlin’ Wolf’s album explicitly stated the artist’s disdain for the record on the cover.


This Is Howlin’ Wolf’s New Album also contains spoken interludes where Howlin’ Wolf explains why he doesn’t like his new album. One of his complaints was that electric guitars make “queer sounds.” But John Paul Jones listened closely to “Smokestack Lightning” and was inspired by what he heard. In the December, 2007, issue of Mojo, John Paul Jones told Mat Snow that the track had “a blues lick that went round and round and didn’t end when you thought it was going to.” Using that approach he developed the riff for “Black Dog,” stretching out the pattern over several measures and incorporating time signature changes, which has made this one of the most difficult songs to cover by the Hampton String Quartet, a chamber group that covers rock songs, as reported by Andy Fyfe in When the Levee Breaks: The Making of Led Zeppelin IV.



^Which Zep also used for the intro to 'Killing Floor/The Lemon Song' in concerts. 




Edited by Sathington Willoughby
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